Lansing’s blue brothers, Holt and Okemos, renew rivalry

Posted: December 4, 2009 by Gavin Raath in High School, Rankings
ColeDarling.jpg Cole Darling image by BigDWSU

Holt's Cole Darling

By Gavin Raath

Last year, the CAAC-Blue felt off.  Okemos outpaced everyone to run away with the conference, while everyone else fought for a distant second.

This year things get back to normal, and by normal I mean Holt and Okemos will again be fighting for the conference crown.  This rivalry will be as heated as ever as both of these teams should run roughshod over the rest of the conference. 

Jackson and East Lansing will be the next tier with great coaching and tough play, while the rest clamor for order at the bottom.

It’s going to be a fun year for the Blue and make sure you take in one of the rivalry games this year.

1. Okemos

He lost a lot of valuable seniors, but has seven more returning to the varsity.  Mitch Asmus and Mack McKearney can carry the load, and sophomore transfer Chris Harrison – Docks is supposed to be good immediately.  Inside Matt Morgan and Quincy Lafeyette will be solid, and supposedly another transfer will add depth.  They aren’t as talented as Holt, but I believe in Coach Stolz.  This rivalry should be as good as it has ever been with these two.

2. Holt

Have the conference’s best one-two punch with Darling and Jackson.  In addition, Holt returns a load of seniors, including forward Taylor Beachnau.  The varsity will also inherit a ton of size from the JV and freshman teams so Darling may be allowed to float around to the spots where he can do the most damage.  Coach Essell is looking at potentially his best season.

3. East Lansing

Coach Fleming is one of the best in high school basketball, but this is a young team he’s working with this year so it’s still tough to project, although these youngsters are experienced.  Spencer O’Hara, Tyler Tucker and Devlin Bell return to give EL a big post and Chad Snordgrass can provide leadership at guard.  Most exciting might be the emergence of Efe Scott-Emuakpor.  The 6’5” sophomore has looked impressive in the off-season and has shown toughness on the football field.

4. Jackson

Return a solid group of seniors that include Joe Hines, Desmond Edwards, Michael Perdue and Laron McCranie.  Edwards and Hines are a returning all conference backcourt, while McCranie and Perdue were starters inside.  They will be tough as always, but may give way to teams with size and shooting.

5. Lansing Eastern

I’m just not sold Eastern being a great team.  LaDontae Henton is a great high school player and Cameron Sanchez is an awesome guard and I hear good things about freshman Charles Tucker at the point, but it’s hard to put much stock in a freshman point guard unless you’re Maurice Jones.

6. Grand Ledge

They’ll be the tallest team with Jon Horford and junior Jason Morrall, but way too much was lost on the perimeter to count Grand Ledge as a contender this season.

7. Lansing Everett

Everett lost just about all of their main contributors.  Tony Rhodes, a 6’5” junior, will be extremely valuable to the Vikings.  Senior Kelvin Canady will also bring a lot to a bare table.  It has been a tough few years for Everett, and I’m not sure if this year will be any different.

All Conference Team

Starters:

Jon Horford 6’9”  Senior  Grand Ledge

He isn’t his brother, but he’s still really good with a different game.

Cole Darling 6’7”  Senior  Holt

Possibly the conference’s best player.

LaDontae Henton 6’6”  Junior  Lansing Eastern

Outlook dropped off after his sophomore, but he’s still a division one player.

Mitch Asmus 6’4”  Senior  Okemos

Could be another Michael Kebler for Coach Stolz

Donlunto Jackson 5’8”  Senior  Holt

How many years has this guy played?  A veteran among veterans.

Bench:

Desmond Edwards 6’1”  Senior  Jackson

Really athletic kid that was as good as anyone on Jackson last year.

Chris Harrison – Docks 5’11”  Sophomore  Okemos

He’s nationally regarded and playing for the conference’s best coach.

Joe Hines 5’11”  Senior  Jackson

Another fantastic athlete that made all conference last year.

Mack McKearney 5’11”  Junior  Okemos

Real cerebral guard with a strong frame for his age.

Tony Rhodes 6’5”  Junior  Lansing Everett

Might be the only bright spot for the Vikings.  Should rack up good numbers.

Cameron Sanchez 6’0”  Senior  Lansing Eastern

Highly underrated point guard.

Efe Scott – Emuakpor 6’5”  Sophomore  East Lansing

Kind of a gamble pick, but he’s athletic and physical enough to make an impact.

Things to expect:

  • Another year of great rivalry games between Okemos and Holt.  It could be as big as the years when Johnny Jones and Paul Crosby were headlining their respective teams.  Get your tickets early.
  • For Grand Ledge to underachieve even when nothing will be expected of them.
  • Everett will be worse than last year, if you can believe it.  I’m still having a hard time believing this is the same team that was just at the Breslin four or five years ago.  I never would have thought Goran Suton, who was terrible in high school, but was very good in college, to be the zenith of this program [besides Magic of course].
  • Don’t be too surprised if Charles Tucker and Chris Harrison-Docks aren’t the second coming the way a lot of people are advertising.  But do expect Efe Scott-Emuakpor to be a stud right away.
  • LaDontae Henton to go down the road of Dion Sims and Demondre Chapman, as guys that may have peaked too early.  I don’t want to be a hater, but right now he seems like a 6’6”ish power forward at the next level.  I hope he proves me wrong.
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Comments
  1. Johnson says:

    East Lansing has an impact frosh in Steve Haney, Jr. that probably, at least, deserves a mention somewhere in your preview of the CAAC Blue Division.

  2. J says:

    The 6’8 transfer from England is no longer enrolled at Okemos, possibly sent back to England. Also, did Holt get a transfer from the Albion area? Heard a rumor about it, but am unsure if it actually is true.

  3. Gavin Raath says:

    Yeah, I forgot about Haney, but EL is already loaded in the frontcourt so he’d have to be really special to see the floor.

    Honestly, I’m kind of a hater when it comes to freshmen being any more than role players. People are going nuts over this Charles Tucker too. I haven’t seen him, but that position is too physical in my mind to see a freshman take over.

  4. Jared Jackson says:

    Cha cha is good he will help em out a lot but I dont see him being a major player this year…Edmonds played summer ball with Holt but transfer situation didn’t work out so he is still in Albion

  5. haters says:

    WHAT who writes these articles because you must have not been in the local area as of late. Or your basketball IQ is low to understand what the area has. EASTERN bringing up the rear are you serious? I tell you what tell all the coaches in the CAAC BLUE to put they best guy against HENTON any night becasue they wont (SCARED) and watch the show.

  6. RJ says:

    Better watch out Haney from E.L. Can light it up

  7. Austin D says:

    I Know coach Stolz very well. Okemos may not have the athletes like Holt but i’ll put my money on the Okemos Chieftains any day with coach Dan Stolz on the sidelines.

  8. scout says:

    Ive seen Steven haney play for east lansing and he is a highly overrated player in my point of view.. hes dad is the coach so i see why they are hyping him up.. he is suppose to take 70% of their shots but he misses about 65% of it.. he should get better as time goes. but he has too much hype for how he played this season!!

    • James T says:

      Really…Kid had 26pts in a win at Grand Ledge, 31pts against#3 rated Lansing Eastern, 25pts against state ranked Dewitt….etc… and was named unanimous 1st Team All Area and 1st Team All Conference by veteran CAAC coaches…..a conference that was clearly the best in MI this season. You must be a parent whose kid sat behind him. Heard a lot of jealous parents in East Lansing, which has always been the way it is out there. Predictable. Pretty pathetic when people bash 14/15 year olds and hide behind a screen name and dont have their facts straight. Ps his coach is Fleming, not his dad? I would bet your last name is Edmonds…just a guess…whoever you are, get your kid in the gym and get off the message board! HAHAHA

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